Wanted : Genius solutions for Casa Svendsen

Okay peeps, here’s the deal. The Svendsens have a house here in Gran Canaria that needs some tender loving care. Our greatly-anticipated bombardment of guests begins later this month and continues throughout the summer, so it’s time to get serious and finally unpack those boxes lingering in the basement. We need to transform Casa Svendsen from a temporary rental into a semi-permanent home.

However, anyone who knows the two Svendsen parents also knows that we’re not much of a DIY couple. We admit it completely – we’re really more of a “Can’t we hire someone to fix this for us?” kind of pair. You’d think that Pappa S (being from the hotel industry) would have all kinds of secret knowledge about how to fix/organize/decorate things, right? But no, that’s what he has employees for.


And as for Mommy S? Well, let’s not even go there…

So we need help putting this place together and I’m totally at a loss. Therefore, I’m hereby relying on the much-lauded magic of social networking to fix our problems. Write in, comment, send photos, send finely-worded insults about our lack of decorating prowess – whatever floats your boat and is at least mildly constructive.

(Note: the “Where’s Waldo?” impersonation in the photographs below was generously made available by our local resident baby model.)

Ready… set…. go!

ISSUE 1: The Non-Existent Third Bedroom

We really, really wanted a house with three bedrooms so Per Christian would still have his own room when we have guests visiting. Our son is a loud, grumpy and restless sleeper – he was booted out of our room when he was three months old and thank goodness for that! In order to sustain any sensible amount of personal sleep, we need to keep this kid out of our room and in his own space.

However, we’re having no luck finding a suitable house for rent with three bedrooms in Arguineguin. We do, however, have a soon-to-be office space that could be used for a temporary nursery during guest visits. There’s no door and it’s entirely open into the upstairs hallway, so we need to do something to partially seal it off or prepare it somehow for part-time office space and part-time baby sleeping.

How do we turn this bland space into something suitable for double-duty office and baby space? How do we section it off so there is some semblance of a separate, quiet room for PC to get some sleep?

ISSUE 2: Protecting PC from the Stairs (or, more accurately, Protecting the Stairs from PC)

Our little meatloaf is now a very agile and mobile meatloaf, zooming around our non-carpeted floors with great gusto. And like all good parents, we’ve put up a baby gate on the first floor stairs down to the basement, and we also have a gate that will soon go up on the outside terrace.

However, the stairs from the second floor to the first absolutely confound me. They’re kind of “recessed” in a way, so that any traditional baby gate (the ones that screw into each side of the wall or railing) would only begin from the third or fourth step down.

This makes no sense to me! Stylistically, I’ll agree that it’s a good look, but if we don’t figure out a gating solution soon I fear the baby police will be knocking on our door. How do we manage to install a gate from the very top of these stairs so that mommy doesn’t have a stroke every time Per Christian goes zooming down the hallway?

ISSUE 3: Making the Most of our Tiny Kitchen

The kitchen is a particularly painful predicament at Casa Svendsen. When we originally moved here, we thought its demure size wouldn’t matter that much since we’d be eating every meal outside on the terrace anyway (we were very smug back then). The reality, however, is that it does actually sometimes get chilly here (notice I did not say “cold” – I wouldn’t dare insult my Norwegian or Russian friends by labeling this as “cold”), so we need to take advantage of our inside kitchen space.

We have insanely limited cabinet space, and I’m even a bit embarrassed to show their pathetic-ness in these photos. I thought these swinging metal shelves would be a great solution, but I can’t seem to find a system that actually works. The dishes are in disarray, the pots and pans are a disaster, the overhead food storage is a mess… and my poor little spice collection – boo hoo!

How can we arrange this kitchen to resemble the pictures of organized tranquility I see all over Pinterest these days? We haven’t even unpacked the majority of our kitchen gear yet – I’m having a hard time understanding how it will ever fit in here!

(Note: we live on an island in the middle of the ocean, people. There’s no miracle mecca like The Container Store to answer our prayers. However, anyone with brilliant ideas and willing to ship them our way, be my guest!)

ISSUE 4: Turning the Place Green

My green thumb is actually more of a greenish-brown color, as if it was sliced open and then left to fester for too long. Nope, it ain’t green, my friends.

My sister and my father have skills in this area that you wouldn’t believe, but they’re selfish and didn’t pass along that part of their DNA to me. My entire relationship with green plants can be boiled down to one pathetic attempt at a few planters outside our balcony in Oslo. Those poor flowers died a sad, lingering death, and I fear that I was to blame.

We now have this large terrace and I have great plans for it. Great plans! I want one of those cozy outdoor areas that make people linger and drink lemonade, the kind of place that feels cool in the shade, even when it’s boiling hot outside. How do I get that? I mean, is this dirt even useable? Do I need, like, tools and stuff? I know this seems ridiculous, but I’m serious! Total and complete ignorance beyond a vision in my head. Where does one even begin?

So there you have it – four issues that need solving! Please post below your (semi-helpful, or at least fully-humorous) suggestions for either (1) what we can do personally or (2) who we can hire to fix this for us!

Ciao, farewell, and hasta luego from our resident “Where’s Waldo” star!

7 thoughts on “Wanted : Genius solutions for Casa Svendsen

      • on my way πŸ™‚ you know i love this things πŸ™‚ why dont you use room Divider for Office/ Nursery ?
        can you change the place of overhead food storge and plates? then you can use boxes for your food instead of there original bag , it takes less space and look better πŸ™‚ when it comes to the Green πŸ™‚ you should first remove all the dead plants and stones, then refresh the garden soil by removing about 20 cm of the old soil and put new one πŸ™‚ then you can plant anything you want πŸ™‚

  1. Okay, here’s my two cents worth:

    Issue 1: You need to speak with your landlord first, but I believe it would not be too difficult to build a folding doorway that could be used to close off this area. Depending on how the folding door is constructed, this would require a track being installed at the top along the ceiling or at the top and the floor in which the folding door would slide. A more ambitious, but more attractive solution would be a sliding glass door and side panels, similar to what is shown in the photo going to the outdoor landing. This second option would be more expensive and could be considered a permanent change; however, it may be enough to qualify the space as a separate room, and thus a real improvement the landlord would jump to approve.

    Issue 2: My first thought was to attach a folding gateway to the floor, but on looking more closely at the photo I see that doing that would damage the marble edging and floor. So I suggest you look around for an upright wooden planting box, something about two foot by two foot by three foot high. No need to actually plant something living in it (an artificial plant would do). This would provide a stable side for a gateway with the other side going into the wall next
    to the bookcase. You might even be able to find a six sided planter that would look more attractive in the obtuse angle formed at the stairway and railing.

    Issue 3: Not much I can say here other than a kitchen remodel. Probably more than you want to invest in a rental. I have seen a TV advertisement for a vertical storage thingie that goes inside a cabinet. It has two or three vertical drawers with space on each side of each drawer for storing kitchen supplies. I wanted to get one for your mom but she wasn’t too interested — I think she would rather complain about getting to her cooking supplies that are in the back of
    her overhead cabinets.

    Issue 4: So, what’s the problem? I zoomed in on the two photos you posted of the outdoor area and noticed what looks like new — green — growth coming out of the planters. I suspect those shrubs that look like they have been cut back are really dormant and the winter shearing is normal for plants like them. In any case, what you should do before planting
    anything is go to a reputable garden center and find out what plants are native to the islands. Get an idea of what’s available, their sizes, sun and water requirements, and flower or foliage color. From earlier pictures you posted of your touring around the island, as well as what I’ve seen using Google Earth, you should not be looking for a tropical paradise. It appears to me that the island is what might be called a dry, arid place as opposed to something like Hawaii
    that gets lots of rain. That means you are going to have to limit your patio plantings to something that will thrive in the heat and sun — unless you’re willing to install additional irrigation. You might also want to consider installing some lattice on that long stone wall for growing some climbing vines.

    Looks like you need a handyman and/or Master Gardener to spend some time at your place doing all this work. If so, I know of one who would be more than happy to spend a week or two getting everything installed — and he’s cheap too!!


  2. Pingback: Why I hate IKEA | Prosecco & Pampers

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